Electrotherapy and hyperbaric oxygen: promising treatments for postradiation complications 2016-05-23T14:19:30+00:00

King, GE, et al. Electrotherapy and hyperbaric oxygen: promising treatments for postradiation complications. Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry, 62(3):331-334, 1989. Also published in the book, Emerging Electromagnetic Medicine, 283-289, edited by ME O’Conner, RHC Bentall and JC Monahan, Springer Verlag, New York, 1990. Download Article

37 head and neck cancer patients with postsurgery and radiation sequelae were given 1 – 37 hyperbaric oxygen therapy and Alpha-Stim treatments, or Alpha-Stim treatments alone over a 3 year period at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas. The conditions and treatments of the patients varied, so a valid comparison of their treatment modalities was not possible.

After some empirical adjustments it was found that a 50 µA current at 0.5 Hz provided the best results. Stronger currents seemed to enhance fibrous tissue regeneration and actually made the area “tighter”. 3 of 16 maxillary resection patients developed osteoradionecrosis. 2 of those received hyperbaric oxygen, and 1 received Alpha-Stim treatment only. The osteoradionecrosis was resolved in all 3 patients. However, retaining or regaining decreased oral opening did not prove to be enhanced specifically by the treatment protocol.

The discussion included 1 patient who received only Alpha-Stim treatment after 70 Gy external-beam radiation bilaterally to metastatic disease in the neck after a marginal maxillary resection for squamous cell carcinoma of the gingiva. Her face and neck had the typically darkly pigmented, hard, alligator-hide texture where she had been irradiated. She received 10 Alpha-Stim treatments over a 2 week period. At the end of the 2 week period, a marked change had occurred in the texture and color of the irradiated tissues. Apparently there was a marked increase in blood flow and cellular metabolism within this area…[this] led to the assumption that the combination of increased blood flow and increased cell membrane permeability was allowing tissues to repair and revascularize in an area that would otherwise experience progressive ischemia and fibrosis.

The authors concluded that the clinical impression at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center is that electrotherapy and hyperbaric oxygen is achieving a degree of tissue repair and revascularization of the irradiated field. Although it is still unclear what is specifically occurring physiologically and histologically, the irradiated soft tissues appear to become revascularized. It is apparent that these modalities have relieved discomfort, enhanced healing of irradiated hard and soft tissues, and improved the quality of the irradiated soft tissues.